Saturday night, and random people are ‘hanging out’ at Casa de Hails.
Amongst these, two American guys I’ve never met before, who are visiting our local American friends. Late in the evening, one of them wanders into the living room where a few of us are contentedly watching Father Ted. “Hey,” he says, a quizzical expression on his face. “I was just upstairs talking to my girlfriend on the phone, and I was looking out the window…” he pauses, scratching his head. “I’m not from this country, so I don’t know… is it normal for a guy to be lying on the sidewalk flailing his arms around?” We look up, intrigued. “It’s just… y’know, it doesn’t seem like it would be normal, but cars are just driving past without stopping, so I figured, maybe….”
I go outside to investigate, and see a lone figure lying at the edge of the main road, arms no longer flailing. Flanked by Monkeyman, Jay, and random bewildered American guy, I climb through the hole in the fence and cross the road. The man is lying in a heap, completely motionless, his eyes open and staring. I panic about the possibility that I am about to encounter a corpse, but crouch down beside him, pretending am brave and fearless in manner of Clarice Starling, Nancy Drew or similar. “Hey…. can you hear me?” Apparently, he can’t. He’s staring straight ahead and it’s creeping me out. He’s breathing, but I wave my hand in front of his eyes and he doesn’t even blink. It’s like we’re not there, or he’s not there, depending on how you look at it.
We have no idea what he’s taken, or how long he’s been there, but to leave him there in that condition, in this particular area, in the middle of the night, could probably be classed as murder. I leave the boys with him, and return to the house to remove other random American guy from the computer and look up the police station number. “It is ridiculous, the things I find myself doing on a quiet night in with friends,” I reflect internally, listening to Father Ted and a game of poker continuing in the background as I phone the station and innocently ask what a person would do if they found a drugged-up stranger lying at the side of the road. Happily, the nice policeman does not tell me to carry said stranger into my home, nurse him back to health and send him off with a pocket New Testament. Instead, he tells me he will send some big strong policemen to resolve the situation. Hurrah!
I slither back under the fence, down the slope and across the road, where my now-wet friends are still trying to talk to drugged stranger. “What sort of life must someone have that they end up lying at the side of the road, drugged senseless, at the mercy of whoever passes by?” I ask as we wait for the police. It is sad.
Police show up in not-at-all melodramatic Landrover. Random American guy is suitably impressed. Police tend to drugged stranger in surprisingly gentle, caring manner for people who have just arrived in armoured tank. We go back to the house and rewind Father Ted.
I look around at my friends, at my cosy house, my cat (sulking in corner due to presence of arch enemies Dirk and Jay). I savour the laughter of those beside me and smile at the yells of card game-related indignation from the kitchen. I feel half-guilty about handing drugged stranger over to police, and wonder how much trouble he’ll get into. I hope he gets help. The saddest thing of all is the knowledge that he is one of many; many who have nothing else to live for but a temporary high that leaves them incapacitated, damaged, injured – or dead. He could have been robbed, attacked or killed, lying there, and he probably wouldn’t have cared.
Makes you think. We have much to be grateful for.